San Diego Business Journal

Question: What is emotional intelligence?

Answer: Emotional intelligence has been around for a long time, but the idea really took off in 1995 when Daniel Goleman wrote a series of books that sold more than 10 million copies.

Goleman defines emotional intelligence, known as EQ, as, "The capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships." His model has four components: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.

Studies indicate that there are baseline or threshold requirements for any job. IQ and technical/functional skills are the two threshold requirements. EQ is what sets the top performers apart from those who may rely too much on IQ or skills.

Make a list of the qualities that defined the best boss you've ever worked for by writing one-word adjectives that describe how they did it. Take three minutes. Look at your list; are they adjectives that describe their IQ or their technical/functional skills? They are probably EQ components.

Does EQ help the bottom line? A Gallup survey states, "The primary reason that people choose to leave their job is because they have a poor relationship with their boss." Turnover affects the bottom line. For other examples of how EQ contributes to the bottom line, visit the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations at www.eiconsortium.org.

There are emotional intelligence assessments that will give you an idea of how others see you. You can also ask those who are comfortable having difficult conversations to give you their impressions.

No matter how we score on EQ, take heart, because EQ can be learned. This can be a long process , most studies indicate six to nine months. It can be frustrating and arduous, so weigh the cost and the reward and then decide your course of action or inaction.

Change starts with an awareness of what to change, then commitment, followed by a plan and finally a system to assess how you are doing. Many people realize that the best investment they can make is in themselves, just as enlightened companies realize their best investment is in developing the EQ of their employees.

As someone once said, "It's the people, stupid."

Written by Kent Porter, the chief executive officer of Porter Leadership Development, a La Jolla-based leadership training firm specializing in the mentorship of C-level executives.